Archive for the ‘Philip Glass’ Category

The 34th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert Virtual Edition 17 Feb 2021

TibetHouse_Announce_1200x1800So once again, I ventured into the virtual world of live streaming. This tempting event was to celebrate the 34th birthday of Tibet House in New York. Unknown to me, there is an event every year to mark the birthday of the opening of Tibet House, largely orchestrated by Philip Glass and often featuring artists who I admire, such as Patti Smith in particular. So, when I read the streaming included Iggy Pop, Philip Glass, Patti Smith and none other than the Dalai Lama himself, I could not resist buying a ticket for virtual attendance.

“Tibet House US was founded at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who at the inauguration in 1987 stated his wish for a long-term cultural institution to ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture, whatever the political destiny of the six million people of Tibet itself.”

dali lama tibet“I feel that Tibetan culture with its unique heritage –born of the efforts of many human beings of good spirit, of its contacts with Mongolian, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Persian culture, and of its natural environment – has developed a kind of energy which is very helpful for cultivating peace of mind and a joyful life. I feel that there is a potential for Tibet to help humanity, and particularly our Eastern neighbour, where millions of young Chinese have lost their spiritual values. In this way, I feel very strongly that Tibetan culture will have a role to play in the future of humanity.” (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

iggy 1 tibetThe show started with a very dark performance by Iggy Pop of the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”. Iggy was staring right at me, his deep rasping voice emanating from his stark, wrinkled face. Quite scary stuff and not what I expected, but a great introduction to the concert.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” (Dylan Thomas, 1951)

This was followed by a musical performance by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson. There were quite a few artists who I did not recognise but each one performed a unique and appropriate contribution to the evening. Jessie Paris Smith, daughter of Patti, performed a solo acoustic “Monster”, followed by the Black Pumas. Then someone more familiar appeared. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips sang “Flowers of Neptune” from within the familiar bubble, which I have seen him perform from before.

After contributions by Angelique Kidjo and Brittany Howard, the more familiar face of Annie Lennox appeared at the piano singing a short set of “You Placed a Chill In My Heart”, “Cold” and finishing with the Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again”.

After several further offerings, Eddie Vedder, performed Pearl Jam’s “Can’t Keep” on ukulele.

tibet alan and philWe were then treated to a video from a previous concert; of Philip Glass accompanying the legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Stunning stuff, which brought back memories of when Laura, David, Shauna and I travelled to Edinburgh Playhouse and were lucky enough to see Patti Smith perform an evening of Allen Ginsberg poetry, again accompanied by Philip Glass on piano.

Philip Glass is, of course, widely recognised as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He is one of the fathers of minimalism, although he often rejects this title. His striking repetitive style has influenced many important popular music artists, including David Bowie, and he regularly, to this day, provides accompaniment to poetry readings by artists such as Patti Smith.

Alan Ginsberg was a seminal figure in the “beat” movement, promoting, through his poetry, anti-war messages, the counterculture, sexual freedom and Eastern religion. I have a vague memory of him appearing at Morden Tower, Newcastle University in the 1970s, and for some reason, I did not go along; something I regret to this day.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke to us, marking the importance of Tibet House and its significance to culture and religion.tibet patti

The evening concluded with Patti Smith and her daughter, accompanied by Joan Baez and many more of the performers, singing very appropriately “People Have the Power”.

Not quite what I expected, but nonetheless an enjoyable event.


Patti Smith and Philip Glass The Poet Speaks Edinburgh Festival Aug 13th 2013

Patti Smith and Philip Glass Edinburgh Festival Aug 13th 2013
pattiprog Laura, David, Shona and I spent a day at the Edinburgh festival yesterday. We travelled up primarily to see Patti Smith perform with Philip Glass in “The Poet Speaks”, a tribute to Allen Ginsberg. The main concert was at the Playhouse Theatre last night, however we were lucky enough to attend a small intimate “conversations with….” session with Patti and Philip yesterday lunchtime. We also took in a stand up show, and had a great, but very long day.
From the festival website: “Two of the pillars of contemporary music come together for an intimate evening of poetry, music and song in tribute to their friend, the great Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg. Punk poet and provocateur Patti Smith performs both her own and Ginsberg’s poetry, with accompaniment and solo pieces for piano from founding father of minimalism Philip Glass. Renowned as one of the originators of the Beat movement, Ginsberg’s raw, visceral poems, including Howl, Kaddish and Wichita Vortex Sutra, range from forceful fury to profound spirituality.” pattiti1 Our day started early, leaving shortly after 8am and driving up the A1 to Edinburgh, arriving shortly after 11am. We drove straight up the Royal Mile, and easily found The Hub, which is the central point for the International Festival and was also the venue for the first session that we were attending. We entered the main hall of The Hub, and took a seat at the front just in front of the stage. The red sofa in front of us was soon occupied by Patti Smith, Philip Glass and the Reverend Richard Coles (ex Communard, musician, broadcaster and priest). Richard was charged with questioning Patti and Philip who talked freely and with affection of their old friend Alan Ginsberg. It was fascinating to hear of the background to their relationship with Ginsberg, and how they came to start to perform his poetry. Patti revealed that it was Ginsberg who persuaded her to return to performing after the loss of her husband, and she also shared how she listens to Philip’s music while she writes. The pair took some questions from the audience before leaving to prepare for the evening’s performance. pattitix2
We spent the afternoon exploring some of the Fringe activities around Pleasance, and took in one stand-up act. The evening performance was at the Playhouse theatre at 8.30pm. Playhouse was packed for the event, which mixed Smith reading her own poetry, with that of Alan’s and Glass seated at a grand piano accompanied her. A collage of images, paintings and photographs from Ginsberg’s collection provided a backdrop to the performance. This was very different to the rock performance format which I am used to, but it was a very welcome change for me. I had a sense that I was witnessing a very special event. Patti started off with one of Ginsberg’s poems and then read some of her own writing; each performed with great spirit and passion. The pair then each performed their own short set. Patti read Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Land of Nod”, which she explained was her childhood favourite, and sang, along with her regular guitarist Tony Shanahan, “Dancing Barefoot”, old favourite “Pissing in a River”, and a great version of John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”. Glass then held the crowd spellbound with three short piano pieces. The pair then closed the evening with some further readings. The crowd called them back for an encore of “People Have the Power”, which to be honest was ok, but didn’t quite fit with the evening, Glass having some obvious difficulty in making the switch to the boogie oriented bar piano which was required. A truly great and inspirational evening. We left the theatre around 10.10pm and headed back down the A1, arriving home around 1am.